New York City street urchins were a prevailing theme in John G. Brown's work, earning him the nickname of Bootblack Raphael. Although not widely known today, Brown was one of the most popular and commercially successful American painters of the late 19th century. Born in England in 1831, he trained as a glass cutter before emigrating in 1853 to Brooklyn, where he pursued a career as a realist genre painter. He opened a studio in Manhattan in 1860, and in 1869 was elected president of the National Academy of Design.
Duffy-Zeballos L. John George Brown's A Tough Story. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6(5):360. doi:10.1001/archfaci.6.5.360